I like to start my day with coffee and then during the day I drink one more coffee in the early afternoon and sometimes take another one somewhere in between. So I mostly drink two coffees a day and sometimes three. I like to drink my coffee with milk and without sugar. During summer I prefer to drink my coffee cold and on workdays I just make my regular coffee and add a few ice cubes in the glass. And I sometimes used pre-frozen coffee ice cubes to make coffee. On weekends I’m sometimes in a festive mood and on those moments I take out my special coffee mixer and make something more nostalgic: Neskafe.

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If you have visited a warm Balkan country in summer, you have probably seen something like this being consumed in the table next to you on a terrace. You might have even ordered one yourself! For me a cold neskafe is nostalgia. Coffee in general is nostalgia for me, as coffee was a pretty expensive thing to drink in the south-east part of Europe, when I lived there. Therefore it was always a ritual that was performed with guests. Whether the coffee beans would be grounded by hand with all the guests in a authentic coffee grinder or whether the coffee was served with a tiny sweet confiture-like side dish.

With neskafe – or as we call it in short nes – there was a ritual as well. Neskafe needs stirring and in those days we didn’t have a machine – only few had machines – so you would need to place the first mixture in a big cup and then everybody would start stirring it’s own glass vigorously till it got foamy and the coffee would then be finished off with water and milk. So some coffees had setting up rituals and others, like the famous Turkish coffee would have end rituals, where people would sit together and the chosen expert in the room would tell people what their destiny was based on the figures that were shown by the left over coffee in the turned cup.

Yes, coffee was a thing in those days. I was only a bystander at that time, as I was small and was strictly forbidden to drink coffee. So I only watched and admired. My confiture-sweets were served with a glass of water. It took me long before I started drinking coffee. I wasn’t a coffee or even a tea drinker during my early student life. I started drinking coffee in my twenties I think. And  ever since I’m a huge fan of the brown liquid.

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Back to neskafe. You might want to try and make it yourself. You don’t need much, you basically need some kind of instant coffee (Nescafe for example), a bit of sugar, ice cubes, hot water & some milk. I use a machine I bought many years ago in Macedonia (progress!), but if you are a more meditative person, you can do the same thing with a little spoon and a shaky hand.

Now what do you do? You place two tea spoons of coffee and a small tea spoon of sugar in a glass. You add four tea spoons of hot water and start stirring it (by hand of with the machine). You start low in the glass and if you have a machine, you slowly move upwards, where you see the foam forming. By hand you stay low as you are shaking your hand in the (lower glass). You will see now that the five tea spoons will slowly turn into almost a glass full of coffee foam. It’s just perfect to look at. Now add a little bit more water and start pushing it up with your machine again till it’s all foamed up again.

Now add a little bit of milk and place a good amount of ice cubes in the glass. I like my foam to go up. It should be higher than the glass-border. Since the foam is pretty stiff, it won’t drip over. Add a straw to finish it and you are ready for a hot summer day, or at least part of a hot summer day.

I started this story with saying that I like my coffee sugarless and now that you read my story, you might be confused that I added suger into this coffee. Instant coffee has a very bitter taste if you don’t use sugar. Also the suger will make it easier to fluff up the foam. So therefore I use a tiny bit of sugar to make it work. You could replace it with some kind of alternative sweetener  or use sweet soya milk for example.

Let me know if you try, if it works out for you. Also do you have good memories of coffee rituals? Tell me, I would love to know!

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